Mark’s Mom



My aunt Barbara with baby Mark and his big sister, Carrie.

Funeral Program: Barbara Bowles Stratton (outside)

Funeral Program: Barbara Bowles Stratton (inside)

My mother’s older sister, Barbara, passed away a few months ago in September.  I was privileged to speak at her funeral!  Just as the meeting was closing with prayer my cousin, her son Mark, ran up to the stand and wanted to say a few words about his mother… but there was no time because everyone was standing as the casket was wheeled out the door.  Although we spoke about how sweet and kind Barbara was to all of us, Mark wanted to make sure the “tough as nails” part of his mother’s personality was told.  So, he has been regularly texting his memories to me since that day!  Here are the stories Mark wanted to share about his mother:

Story #1 – Mom was Tough as Nails:  My mother is remembered as a caring sweet, sweet lady that was always sweet.  Never nothing but sweet.  There was another side to my mother that was tough as nails.  She was a firecracker!  I remember my mom jumping the fence to save our chihuahua that was getting eaten alive by a big mean-ass dog.  She went after that dog like a wild cat; that dog had his tail tucked and was fleeing for his life!  So, she grabbed our little dog and loaded us up to go to the dog doctor.  As we backed out of the driveway, she noticed the screen door was open.  She ordered me to run and shut it.  And that’s exactly what I did was run and shoved my hand right thru the glass.  So, now she has to decide who goes to the doctor first… the dog or me?  Mom decisively made the call, the dog is first; then if I am still alive, I go next.  The dog died.  Me however, did not.  She was in command of the situation from the first second.


My mother said she always looked up to her big sister, Barbara, and admired her beauty.

Story #2 – Mom had Skills:  My sweet caring mother wasn’t just tough as nails, she had many skills.  Some fine tuned skills and some that just came natural when she was in a jam and needed to come up with something fast to get by.  I was probably four when the dog ate our little dog, so I would say I was five when my mom was backing our new car out of the driveway and tore the door off the car.  I’m not sure of the particulars of how this happened (I was 5); however, I am sure the door was ripped off the car.  So mom, being her father’s daughter, got some rope and put the door back where it belonged and she wrapped the rope around the car door, then over the roof and back under the car, and over the opposite door and back over the roof and after about ten times around the car, she put some kind of crafty cinch loop and a few half-hitches and there it was; fixed almost good as new.  Of course, we had to get in and out of the car thru the back doors until dad got home from working out of town all week, then the door issue naturally fell to him.

Story #3 – I’m in the Dog House Now:  I could always tell when mom was getting fed up with my dad working too much, because she would take it out on me and dad’s hunting dog.  This dog was my pal!  So, I would stand toe-to-toe with my mom and defend my dog from her and her broom; me and this dog was tight.  Hell, we used to go in the garage and eat dog food together!  Now, if that ain’t a tight friendship I don’t know what is?  Anyhow, my dad had been gone bow hunting and didn’t take us with him, so mom was less than sweet to my dog because of it.  And, since I was stupid enough to sass my mom over her brooming my dog, I think it’s safe to say I wasn’t exactly safe from getting broomed my own self; but unlike my dog, I was stuck in the middle.  My mom went after my dog with the broom until he finally had to flee for his life.  He tried to come back but she would go after him with the broom again until he just stopped coming back.  Dad comes home and wants to know where is his dog?  Mom tells him, “I don’t know, the dog just run off.”  I jump up and say, “No sir, he tried to come home but mom kept chasing him away!”


Barbara was born on July 9, 1938

Story #4 – Mom had Nerves of Steel:  I would hit the doors with both hands to stop me, and then do it again and again.  Mom had told me 3 or 4 times to knock it off, or else!  So, knowing this was the last run at it before “or else” was going to hit, I got a good running start and slid into the glass door and went right thru the glass.  So, there I was bleeding out.  Mom used my little brother’s diapers to try to slow the bleeding while she drove like a crazy lady to the hospital.  One time when mom, Brad and I were at the laundry mat, I ws acting my same old out-of-control part… running and sliding on the wet floor.  It was winter and the floor by the glass door at the laundry mat was wet from snow-covered shoes going in and out all day.  I saw the opportunity to do a little floor surfing!  I would get back and get a run at it and hit that wet floor and surf to the glass doors.  I was cut up; it was not a pretty sight.  It took 140 stitches to patch me up that time.  Brad was less than a year old, so I wasn’t quite four yet.  My mom had nerves of steel, but she couldn’t quite bring herself to give me the “or else” she had threatened me with.  I guess that glass door was the or else!

Story #5 – Mom knew No Fear:  My mother was absolutely the most fearless person I have ever met in my life.  She had more backbone in her little finger than most men ever have in their finest hour.  My mother would tackle jobs that would make a big bad-ass strong man die from fright.  Mom heard about a trailer in Veyo that was free.  All you had to do was come get it and it was yours.  So my mom, knowing that my sister was thinking about moving back to the area, she hires a trailer mover to go move the trailer to a park near her home.  Now this trailer was a scary sight.  By the time I found out about what she was doing, it was too late to tackle her down and tie and gag her while I try to talk some sense to her.  Nope, that conversation was a luxury I did not have; so no sooner than the trailer was parked, the tear down began.  There was not one inch of this trailer that was livable; everything had to come out and go into the dumpster.  I wasn’t around to help as much as I should have been.  My brother, Brad, was the muscles and mom was the brains, and she executed her daily list day in and day out until she had the trailer looking like new.  She called me up and told me she needed this done before my sister got here.  So me being me, I followed her order pretty damned good, because I knew the difference between her asking me and her telling me.  And, make no mistake about it, she wasn’t asking me to paint the trailer, she was telling me to paint the trailer.  And, she told me to bring a couple cords of fire wood with me when I come.  The only thing I could think to say to that was, “Yes ma’am, I will cut the wood in the morning and get to painting when I get there; is there anything else ma’am?”  She said no sir, just that it had to be done in less than 48 hours because that’s when your sister will be here.  So I cut wood all day and painted most of the night to beat the clock.  I knew better than to ask the boss any stupid questions, like maybe if I’m not done in time coud I get another day?  No sir, not after I seen the work she had done herself inside the trailer.  She learned how to set tile by the instructions on the tile box… and the list goes on and on.  She was a tough act to follow but I will do my best to do so.  What she done to that trailer in about a month’s time was nothing short of a miracle.  She worked in that trailer herself day and night to make it happen on time.  She was well over fifty when this event took place and take it from me, someone that out works 20-year old men every day at the age of 55, it don’t come easy like it used to when I was 45.  She was the only one I have looked up to since my Dad and my Grandpa Bowles passed away.  She was my rock.


Spencer Bowles with his first child… a daughter named Barbara!

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